Is the Russian military testing Trump?

640px-MiG-29_fuselageA Russian spy ship was spotted Tuesday sailing just off the U.S. east coast.  Also on Tuesday, the administration confirmed that Russia had deployed ground-based cruise missiles in violation of a 1987 treaty.  Last Friday, four Russian jets buzzed an American ship in the Black Sea.

Such provocations sound like Vladimir Putin is testing our new president, who created the impression when Iran was doing this sort of thing that he would not tolerate it.  Putin tested Obama like this all the time, drawing conclusions about his weakness.

It will be interesting to see what President Trump does.

It has been alleged that the Russians helped Trump get elected.  Trump has floated the idea of eliminating the sanctions against Russia for invading the Ukraine and annexing the Crimea.  But Trump’s new secretary of state and secretary of defense have talked tough about keeping the sanctions.  And being overly cozy with the Russian ambassador is what got national security advisor Michael Flynn fired.

Why do you think Putin would throw his weight around like this?

If Trump ignores these incidents, he might look weak, or even in thrall to Putin.  If Trump reacts, he needs to be measured and must not over-react, qualities that have not been his strong suit.

At any rate, this may be President Trump’s first foreign relations test.

[Read more…]

Did Trump slander America?

Poster_russianIn an interview aired Sunday, Bill O’Reilly asked President Trump why he is so supportive of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.  After all, said O’Reilly, “Putin’s a killer.”

“There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied. “Got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Says a Wall Street Journal editor, “Trump puts US on moral par with Putin’s Russia. Never in history has a President slandered his country like this.”

Do you think Trump’s cynicism about American innocence and how, far from being “good guys” we are no better than Putin is slanderous?  It will be hard for his leftist critics to make much of this, since they often say much the same thing about America’s alleged crimes.  Or is this comment simply sober realism? [Read more…]

CIA says Russia helped Trump 

41d3e943e7f3eb460e44 The CIA says that Russia deliberately interfered in the American election in order to help elect DonalTrump.  Russian hackers broke into e-mails of both the Democratic and the Republican national committees, but turned over only the Democratic batch to Wikileaks.  The correspondence between Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and various Democratic operatives proved highly embarrassing to her campaign and likely cost her some votes.

Trump and his people are denying the Russian involvement–but how do they know?  The CIA report doesn’t accuse the Trump campaign of collusion with the Russians.  And there is nothing to deny the legitimacy of Trump’s election.  I suspect the CIA has tried to help one candidate or the other in various foreign elections.  But still. . . .

This casts a cloud on any attempts by the new administration to improve relations with Russia, which Trump has said he wants to do.  Which is why, of course, the Putin regime wanted him to win.  For other problems it creates, see this.  The biggest issue, though, is that if a hostile foreign power can manipulate America’s democracy, we have a national security problem that the military can’t protect us from.
[Read more…]

Russian propaganda and the election

Putin_with_flag_of_RussiaThe Washington Post reports that “fake news” circulated before the election–such as reports of Hillary Clinton’s bad health, that the Clinton campaign paid anti-Trump protesters, and accounts of impending international crises–originated in Russia.  Along with the hacked e-mails of the Democratic national committee, the disinformation campaign was designed to spread cynicism about the American system of government and to help in the election of Donald Trump.

Russia tried similar operations during the Cold War, but this time its propaganda agencies have developed a sophisticated presence on the internet, allowing them to manipulate social media.  So says researchers at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

UPDATE:  But read this critique of the article.

 

[Read more…]

Ivan the Not-So-Terrible

Ivan the Terrible is known for killing his own son and for slaughtering vast numbers of his countrymen, including the Massacre of Novgorod, where up to 60,000 men, women, and children were brutally killed.

But his reputation is being rehabilitated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  You can tell a lot about Russia based on whose statues are being torn down or erected.  Stalin statues were once torn down, but now they are going up again.  And a big monument to Ivan the Terrible has been put up, with its dedication attended by a who’s who of Russian nationalists, including top representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. [Read more…]

FBI investigating Trump & Russia

In addition to investigating Hillary Clinton’s illegal e-mail arrangements, the FBI has been investigating possible ties between Donald Trump and his campaign with Russia.  At issue are the hacked Democratic communications that have been traced to Russia, financial connections between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russia, Russia as the source of the Wikileak e-mails, and an apparent connection between Trump’s computer server and a Russian server.

But the FBI has found nothing.  Democrats, though, reeling from the FBI investigations of Clinton, are insisting that the bureau make public what they have on the Russian connection.

[Read more…]